Learning dance isn’t just for children who are looking for a career in the arts. There are benefits for learners of all ages, both physical and emotional. For educators interested in bringing dance to their students, understanding the benefits can help you advocate for resources to school administrators and policymakers.
The Benefits of Dance for Different Ages
Dance in schools benefits learners of all ages! There are a few benefits that are particularly valuable to different ages.
Pre-schoolers: Motor Skills & Learning in a Group
Under five years of age, children in dance lessons benefit from being able to fine-tune their motor skills and brain-body connection. Through dance, young children learn how to control their movements, increase coordination, and improve their balance. One study shows an increase in sensorimotor synchronization and balance after just eight weeks of dance programming.
Dance classes have the added benefit of allowing preschool children to learn how to listen and engage in a group setting. This is critical for young children to learn and a great way to prepare them to enter school. While everyone is learning together, each student will go at their own pace and require different support.
Elementary School Students: Cultural Identity & Body Control
In elementary school, young children learn a lot very quickly. This is an age where kids are very open to learning about the world around them and their place in it. Online dance classes can help positively influence how they feel about themselves and the rest of the world.
Often, elementary school is the first time children are expected to sit at a desk for hours each day, with limited opportunities to get up and move. While dance class can provide a physical release, there are still boundaries children must follow. Dance in school allows them the benefit of creative expression and a movement break while still following directions.
Middle Schoolers: Body Image & Self-Confidence
Middle school can be a challenging time filled with change. As children go through puberty and experience body and hormonal shifts, they often experience shifts in friend group dynamics and struggle with their identity. Even if they had high self-confidence in elementary school, they’re likely not as confident any longer.
Without an outlet for creative expression, it can be challenging to establish a strong sense of self, especially during such an awkward stage. Dance lessons help children build a positive body image and cope with the strong emotions they feel while learning how to establish healthy peer relationships. Dance classes in school are essential to build confidence in young adolescents.
High School Students: Public Performance & Self-Expression
High school students are getting ready for college and their future careers, so they spend a lot of time figuring out what they want to do with their lives. While some classes might provide public speaking opportunities, nothing is quite as vulnerable as dance, where you’re using your body to express yourself.
Learning how to dance and perform in a group setting during high school is critical preparation for anything a young adult wants to do in the future by building discipline, respect, and an understanding of true collaboration.
How Dance Benefits Learners of All Ages
In addition to the specific benefits for learners in each stage of life, there are a surplus of ways online dance classes for kids improve everyone’s lives.
Some of the most impactful benefits children experience from dance education are emotional. Through dance lessons at school, kids are encouraged to come out of their shells and can be their true selves without feeling embarrassed. It’s critical for children to get the opportunity to express themselves physically while building trust with the adults around them.
Students of all ages also can grow their confidence in other classes and life scenarios by practicing being in front of a group of their peers. One study found that after just a one-day dance workshop, learners enjoyed increased mental stamina and memory, increased self-confidence, joyful self-expression, emotional exploration, setting and attaining goals, and taking on new challenges.
Low-barrier Opportunity to Try New Things
Trying new activities can be expensive and intimidating for parents and their children — particularly if kids want to try everything. Creating an opportunity to try out various dance styles at school is a fantastic way for kids to sample activities without having to invest in tuition at a dance studio, costume fees, and more.
For many families, dance lessons at a studio are unattainable for various reasons, whether financial, location, or scheduling. By offering dance education in schools, students get a chance to try something new that they may have never had access to.
Strengthen Friendships & Interpersonal Relationships
Through dance classes, students of all ages learn how to give and receive constructive criticism. Communication is a critical life skill that will be useful in anything a child chooses to do. Similarly, students will learn how to work with different groups and personalities to practice both teamwork and relationship skills.
Build Intrinsic Motivation
With most school subjects, children are externally motivated, either by a parent or educator, to get good grades so they don’t get in trouble. When it comes to dance, students can build their intrinsic motivation as they feel pride when nailing a new move or routine they’ve worked hard on.
Children enjoy getting to make their own decisions, such as choreographing a routine or picking a song to dance to. This keeps them more engaged in school and can increase their attendance rate — which is critical as school attendance rates still have not recovered from COVID-19.
Due to the rise in screen time, children are having a harder time staying focused and processing information than ever before. Participating in dance class is fantastic practice for strengthening focus. This is because learning choreography and new steps increases students’ ability to absorb and retain new information.
Additionally, movement breaks for kids enable improved focus in other classes during the school day. According to the CDC, “Higher physical activity and physical fitness levels are associated with improved cognitive performance (e.g., concentration, memory) among students.”
Perhaps most notable, studies by the National Dance Education Organization have shown that dance in schools supports higher rates of academic achievement across math, language arts, and science.
Increase Acceptance of Differences
During kids’ dance lessons, students practice accepting each other’s differences by watching their peers demonstrate their creativity. Each student makes unique creative choices, letting them practice sharing their own culture while learning about other cultures and building empathy.
In the first year of a two-year study on dance in schools, Rob Horowitz, the associate director of the Center for Arts Education Research at Columbia University’s Teachers College, found that 66% of principals reported an “increased acceptance of others” among their student bodies after a series of 20 classes. Similarly, 95% of teachers reported their students improved cooperation and collaboration.
Learn New Cultural Traditions
While students may learn about different cultures in school, they don’t often get many opportunities to physically experience various cultural traditions. Learning different dance styles, such as Salsa, is a great way to embody other cultures, increasing students’ understanding and respect for others.
Bring Dance Education to Your Students
Dance education benefits students of all ages, improving their physical fitness, self-confidence, emotional well-being, and more. Unfortunately, according to the National Arts Education Data Project, only 3% of students in the USA have the opportunity and access to participate in dance classes in school.
Thankfully, children don’t need to enroll at a dance studio to see the benefits of dance education — online dance classes for kids offer all of the same benefits, without the high cost or strict dress code restrictions. Bringing dance education into schools is critical to making this valuable art form accessible to all students.
Crelata makes it easy to bring dance education to your students — no matter what age you teach or your experience level. Crelata’s on-demand online dance classes feature closed captions in English and Spanish, as well as ASL interpretation, making classes accessible to learners with varied backgrounds.
Not sure about implementing dance with your students? Give virtual classes a try when you sign-up for our freebie bundle, which includes one Popping lesson and one Salsa lesson.